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Top Books: Delivering Happiness

Happiness for me often comes in a box from Zappos. And like so many others who love shoes, Zappos the online retailer delivers my happiness in their distinct white boxes.

Now the CEO of that company, Tony Hsieh is telling his, and his company’s, story in DELIVERING HAPPINESS: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. It seems the "Purpose" for Hsieh and his company begins with serving the customer—truly serving, not just offering lip service.

This customer-first culture runs so deep within Zappos that the company has been able to do what only a few other iconic brands have done, build a lasting, meaningful relationship with its customers.

Customer service reps who work the phones aren't handed scripts or a stopwatch. They can stay on the phone with the customer for as long as it takes to make sure the customer gets satisfaction.

And all that soft/touchy/feely stuff works. Zappos is doing over a billion dollars in sales every year and in 2009 was acquired by Amazon in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion.

In his book, Hsieh offers his top 10 ways to instill customer service into your company including:

  • Make WOW a verb that is part of your company’s everyday vocabulary
  • Make customer service a priority for the whole company – not just a department
  • Don’t measure call times, don’t force employees to upsell and don’t use scripts
  • Don’t hide your 1-800 number. It’s a message not just to your customers, but to you employees as well.

At its core Hsieh realizes the company's success begins with and ends with his employees. He is famous for finding and keeping loyal employees.

"Although I was pretty sure I wasn’t dying, my life was flashing before my eyes. I was obsessed with figuring it out, and I knew I had to do it this very moment, before the energy in the room dissipated, before time stopped standing still. I didn’t know why. I just knew I needed to know where my path began. And then, right before reality returned and time started moving again, I figured it out. My path began on a worm farm." -Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh

Hsieh even goes as far as to offer new employees $2,000 to quit. Imagine – being paid to quit a new job! His philosophy is crystal clear - he only wants those who share his passion for the brand and for building a loyal following on his staff.

Hsieh works hard at keeping in touch with his employees writing that he conducts regular gut checks with his employees through surveys to see how they're doing.

The surveys ask among other things if they agree or disagree with statements such as:

  • I believe that the company has a higher purpose beyond just profits
  • My role at Zappos has a real purpose – it’s more than just a job
  • I am very happy in my job

Hsieh he says your corporate culture is your brand writing, “At Zappos.com we decided a long time ago that we didn’t want our brand to be just about shoes … We decided that we wanted to build our brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best customer experience.”

It's an experience that works very well for Zappos.

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Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks